Adorable beluga calf rescued in Cook Inlet will be sent to Texas

A rescued Cook Inlet beluga whale calf named Tyonek who has been rehabilitating at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward is set to relocate to Texas.

SeaWorld San Antonio will be the new permanent home for the beluga, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

NOAA Fisheries determined Tyonek would not be able to survive in the wild, and thus can't be released.

['The odds were against him': Rescued beluga calf gives scientists insight into an endangered population]

"Tyonek was less than a month old when he stranded, is nutritionally and socially dependent, and lacks both survival and socialization skills needed to be successful on his own in the wild," NOAA said in a statement. It's likely that his mother either abandoned him or died.

"NOAA Fisheries will continue to work with Alaska SeaLife Center and SeaWorld San Antonio to coordinate the safe and speedy transport of Tyonek to his new home," the agency said.

Tyonek was rescued from the west side of Cook Inlet in September. When he arrived at the Alaska SeaLife Center, he was in critical condition and "the odds were against him," director of animal health Carrie Goertz told the Anchorage Daily News in January.

[The tale of a rescued Cook Inlet beluga whale]

By December, things started to turn around. He gained weight, grew longer, and his condition improved.

NOAA chose the San Antonio SeaWorld location because there are other belugas there, both adult females and young male calves, which will help with his social development.

Cook Inlet beluga whales were listed as an endangered species in 2008.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.